Insurgent Peace: Community-led Peacebuilding as Spatial Power

Authors: Nerve V. Macaspac*, CUNY College of Staten Island
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: peace, peace zone, peacebuilding, indigenous peacebuilding, sanctuary, future-making, social movements, Philippines
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores the ways in which community-led practices of designating civilian communities as “off-limits” to war contribute to our understanding of the geographies of peaceful futures. Drawing from the experience of an indigenous peoples community in the northern Philippines in maintaining a “peace zone” (popularly known as a demilitarized geographic area) within the context of 50 years of armed conflict between the state and a communist non-state group, this paper examines the community work of carving alternative geographies of peace during war. While most studies of peace zones frame the processes that animate these spaces as grassroots resistance, nonviolence or neutrality, these frameworks do not fully capture the transformative consequences of the daily community work in protecting civilian lives and what these tell us about the spatialities of a peaceful future. Situated in the emergent field of peace geographies and the “spatial turn” in interdisciplinary peace studies, this paper re-conceptualizes peace as spatial power that allows communities marginalized by war to disrupt the spatial logics of violence imposed upon by competing structures of power of state and non-state armed groups. Building upon the literature on “practice movements” and “prefigurative politics”, this paper explores the projective dimensions of maintaining community-led peace zones as a kind of work of confronting hegemonic politics enacted through a disruption of and alternative to violence. I use the term insurgent peace to refer to the quotidian community work of peacebuilding both as a refusal of war and future-making.

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